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We were pleased to be able to organize our annual springtime Pitch In clean-up once again, after taking a pause the past two years.   REAL has been participating in Pitch In since 1989, and organizing community wide cleanups since the early 2000s. This is the 55th year of Pitch-In cleanups taking place across Canada. We are proud that our community continues to take part in this nation-wide effort to protect and preserve our environment for future generations.

About 25 individuals, families or groups picked up their Pitch In supplies at the REAL Deal over the two weeks leading up to the cleanup. From April 16th to April 30th, our Pitch In volunteers set out to clean up areas around their homes, workplaces, and locations across Smiths Falls most affected by litter. Some locations of note are the lot between Walmart and Scotiabank, behind the LCBO, down Ferrara Drive, throughout Lower Reach Park, behind Giant Tiger, and down both sides of Beckwith St.

The 2nd Smiths Falls Scouting Group (including Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts) led by Neil Looby, conducted three cleanups across town. The library organized a cleanup involving their Get Outdoors Club. Chimo Elementary School and SFDCI cleaned up their yards and surrounding streets. This was the first year that Le Boat also took part in Pitch In, cleaning up around the lockmaster’s house, Lower Reach Park, and behind the Chambers Street Mall, collecting over 25 bags of garbage.

In addition to hearing just how much stuff participants managed to pick up, it is always interesting to hear their most peculiar finds; found this year were Christmas lights, a car battery, a bike rack, a muffler, broken glass bong, a flannel shirt, a couch cushion, a microphone, and a high voltage sign. Interesting finds are part of the fun of Pitch In!

Regarding the items found most frequently, you may not be quite so surprised. The usual suspects – coffee cups and lids, plastic bottles, glass bottles, broken glass, cans, food wrappers, grocery bags, dog poop bags, and cigarette butts – were found at most cleanup locations. You may have also noticed a new offender as of late… face masks! The Scouts reported finding roughly 100 face masks aside from the Walmart parking lot alone. While doing our part to slow transmission of COVID-19, we should try not to neglect the environment, and dispose of face masks and other PPE properly.  

Litter has a detrimental impact on our waterways as well. This year we incorporated our shoreline cleanup into the Pitch In timeframe, as part of another Canada-wide initiative. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a nationwide conservation initiative, focused on keeping Canadian shorelines free of litter. Since it’s start in Vancouver in 1994, more than 2.1 million kg of litter has been collected from Canadian Shorelines. Living in the “heart of the Rideau Canal”, Smiths Falls residents have a responsibility to keep the Rideau River and shoreline clean too.

On April 30th, shoreline cleanup volunteers picked up garbage around Bascule Bridge, Old Sly’s lock station, and near the boat launch on Jasper Avenue. In total, 27 bags of garbage were collected, along with miscellaneous larger items (scrap metal, tires), totaling 436 pounds! In total we had 10 volunteers throughout the day. It was great to have people come out in support of the shoreline cleanup initiative.

As one of our participants aptly wrote, “Our litter ends up mostly in our water systems, which means it ends up in our food/water, which ends up in us. Gross”. Let’s continue to try to keep the beautiful shorelines we are so lucky to enjoy in Smiths Falls pristine!

Several other thoughtful responses came from volunteers who completed our Pitch in Response Form and BINGO card this year.

“…if we keep on littering, we might need to live on Mars (Mars has no air).”

“If you keep littering, we’ll have to wear masks outside to not breath in garbage air smell.”

To those who continue to litter, “Wish you could clean up after yourselves.

Thank you to our members, volunteers, and contest participants – we hope to see you pitching in again next year!

To learn more about The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, visit https://shorelinecleanup.org/. To learn more about Pitch In Canada, https://pitch-in.ca/